Every week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most fascinating stories. Our latest set of headlines features an Advertising Standards Authority admonishment, financial reports from France and the Netherlands, 888 difficulties and Flutter Entertainment’s latest M&A manoeuvre.
Flutter Entertainment is aiming to “replicate the success” achieved across numerous jurisdictions after dipping its toes into the M&A well once again to purchase 51 per cent of MaxBet for €141m (£123m).
Peter Jackson, Group Chief Executive, noted that this presented a “compelling opportunity” to deepen its Balkans presence. The operator will be aiming to build on past moves made across Georgia, India and Italy via the acquisition of Adjarabet, Jungle and Sisal.
Flutter will gain the opportunity to acquire the remaining 49 per cent in 2029, with this initial transaction expected to close, subject to customary regulatory clearances, in Q1 2024.
MaxBet, branded a “local hero”, spans omni-channel operations in Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro, in addition to a retail only footprint in North Macedonia.
The UK Gambling Commission’s Executive Director, Tim Miller, last week highlighted the topics that will be covered in the next batch of consultations for the UK gambling white paper.
Speaking at the Regulating the Game Conference, he noted that the UKGC was pleased with the response it had received from gambling stakeholders regarding its first tranche of consultations.
Remaining open until October 18, the commission has received over 1,800 responses so far for its consultations on age verification on premises; removing features which increase the intensity of play on non-slots casino games online; cross-selling, specifically giving the consumer more direct marketing power; and financial risk and vulnerability checks.
Looking ahead, Miller noted that the next round of consultations, set to begin in early winter, will focus on socially responsible incentives and gambling management tools.
Lotteritilsynet, the Norwegian gambling authority, will conduct compliance surveillance on nine banks to monitor if they authorise payments to and from illegal operators.
Section five of Norway’s gambling act prohibits payment transactions with gambling operators that do not hold a licence in the country. The authority noted that it has the right to order banks to reject transactions to and from specific accounts and companies.
The nine banks being observed by Lotteritilsynet were not specified, but the monitoring is part of the authority’s enforcement of the ban to help reduce problem gambling in the country.
Entain stated that Q3 trading has been “softer than anticipated”, as the gambling group reaffirmed FY2023 EBITDA guidance of £1bn-to-£1.05bn.
Citing mixed results across operations, the group laid out its action plan to “accelerate operational strategy and performance”, including a comprehensive market review and simplifying group structures and operations, as well as the migration of acquired businesses onto its tech platform.
Leadership noted that online net gaming revenue had been “mixed across the group, but in aggregate, softer than anticipated”, with online NGR growth expected to be up a high single-digit per cent, but down high single-digit per cent on a proforma basis.
The Advertising Standards Authority reminded XLMedia of its responsibilities regarding advertising rules after the group’s Freebets.com portal featured Manchester United footballer Mason Mount.
Two complainants challenged whether the ad breached the CAP code after an Instagram post that was witnessed on July 11 and 12, 2023, featured the former Chelsea midfielder, who is under 25 years of age.
Following a lack of response to the complaint, the ASA slammed an “apparent disregard for the code”, as well as issuing a reminder of the necessity of replying promptly to enquiries and urging the company to do so in future.
888 has encountered a series of headwinds concerning the group’s online output through the third quarter of the year, with Executive Chair Lord Mendelsohn labelling the period as being “below our expectations”.
Despite stressing confidence in the group’s long-term strategy, spearheaded by inbound CEO Per Widerström, a knock-on effect of Q3’s performance will be that full-year earnings will also fail to meet past predictions.
The operator noted that “significant and ongoing improvements” to its sustainability and overall quality mix are weighing heavily on short-term performance. This, however, is also said to have driven double digit active customer growth.
As a result, the company’s performance through the third quarter of the year is now anticipated to fall approximately 10 percentage points to £400m.
Better Collective stated that a dual listing on the Nasdaq Copenhagen represents a logical and natural next step for the company in promoting further brand visibility and awareness.
The company, which was founded and incorporated in Denmark and listed on the Nasdaq Stockholm on June 8, 2018, is expecting its listing to take place during the final quarter of the year.
No offer of shares will occur in connection with the proposed dual listing, with it also noted that it will not have any impact on the total number of shares outstanding in the company.
France’s gambling authority Autorité Nationale des Jeux announced that overall gambling turnover during the first half of 2023 increased by four per cent in comparison to the previous year.
Excluding casinos, gambling turnover for H1 2023 came in at €5.3bn, mainly driven by growth across online poker and sports betting.
La Française Des Jeux and Pari Mutuel Urbain operations represented 78 per cent of the French market’s total revenue for the first half of the year at €4.2bn, with the remaining 22 per cent coming from other licensed operators.
Holland Casino stressed delight at a continued recovery from the well known struggles of the past few years, however, additional competition, inflation and high energy prices continue to put pressure on the company.
Despite turnover increasing to €405.3m (2022: €353.4m) and revenue before corporation tax up to €17.2m (2022: €8.2m) during the first half of 2023, the operator was quick to acknowledge that it is “far from out of the woods”.
During the six month period in question, the group welcomed approximately 2.5 million (2022: 1.8 million) visitors, however, average spent per visit was down to €138 (2022: €148). However, this is above the €117 recorded before the coronavirus pandemic, and related restrictions, took hold.
As alluded to, Holland Casino cited higher energy prices and inflation as “significantly” affecting its results through the reporting period. An “additional burden” also arises from COVID-19 tax debt that must be repaid and deferred investments that have to be made.
New South Wales invited tech providers and land-based venues to apply for cashless gaming trials to help inform a future regulatory framework.
Each is expected to run for at least three months to ensure there is sufficient data to address key areas, with the impact of these technologies to be identified, monitored, and assessed by an independent researcher.
Issuing its latest update regarding the state’s cashless gaming ambitions, Liquor and Gaming NSW also revealed three key areas that each solution should look to address.
Australia’s Star Entertainment confirmed a comprehensive refinancing and capital restructure initiative, in addition to dismissing the possibility of further asset sales.
The embattled casino operator, one of three that has faced an array of regulatory hurdles, is raising A$750m. This will comprise A$589m via a 1 for 1.65 pro rata accelerated non-renounceable share offer and a A$161m institutional placement.
In addition, the company has also confirmed A$450m of new debt facilities provided by Barclays and Westpac, which is made up of a A$150m four-year revolving credit facility and A$300m four-year underwritten term loan.
As a result, Star will have all existing debt repaid and cancelled, no debt maturities until the second half of 2027, a “more flexible covenant package” to support ongoing operations and funding requirements and retain its current operations.